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Famine is the new F word, farming, fishing and other food issues

October 16, 2011
Mountains of grain

Mountains of grain – Image by Bugman50

Today is World Food Day.

The pages of My Custard Pie are usually filled with recipes and food-related experiences from a privileged point of view. That is having enough money to buy food and abundant food to choose from.  This is not the case in huge swathes of our world.  On a day where thousands of bloggers are joining a global discussion about food, I would like to add my voice.  I believe that we should be very concerned at the amount of influence multi-national corporations have on food policy, quality, safety, animal welfare and the supply chain as their decisions are primarily based on increasing shareholder value.  I also believe we can and should make a difference:

Food Inc

If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it today.  It will change the way you look at your food forever:

Food speculation

World Food Day logoPrice swings, upswings in particular, represent a major threat to food security in developing countries.  Hardest-hit are the poor.   According to the World Bank, in 2010-2011 rising food costs pushed nearly 70 million people into extreme poverty.  “FOOD PRICES – FROM CRISIS TO STABILITY” has been chosen as this year’s World Food Day theme.  Read more…

The World Development Movement’s comprehensive report on food speculation.
Banks and the trade in food commodities.
Goldman Sachs and the food speculation frenzy.
Wall Street, food speculation, and grain reserves.
The link between food speculation and high food prices.
How food speculation has impacted on Mexico’s maize farmers – and fuelled a tortilla crisis.
Why we need to regulate food speculation.
How to take action against banks involved in food speculation. *

*Many thanks to Tangerine and Cinnamon for these links.

Organisations tackling world hunger

Action Aid’s Hunger Free Campaign

Greenpeace’s Agriculture


Oxfam’s  Grow campaign

Campaigns for sustainability and animal welfare 

Fish fightHugh’s Fish Fight

Fish stocks are in crisis worldwide with many species severely  threatened yet half the fish caught in the North Sea are thrown back into the sea, dead, due to EU fishing laws.  Due to public support of this campaign, in July, the European Commission published their proposals for a new Common Fisheries Policy and they included recommendations for a discard ban. This would not have happened without the pressure of the Fish Fight. But that doesn’t mean that the law will actually change. There is another 18 months to go before the new Common Fisheries Policy becomes law, which is why Hugh went back to Brussels to launch the Fish Fight campaign in another 11 languages and countries. The In at the deep endpressure he generates across Europe could be the difference between success and failure, long-term sustainable fisheries or more years of pointless waste.

Sign up with Hugh’s Fish Fight today.

Other organisations lobbying on fish issues and sustainability:


Friends of the Earth

World Wildlife Fund

Shark Trust

I’d also recommend Jake Tilson’s book In at the Deep End

Chicken out logoChicken Out!

Through the Chicken Out! campaign, Compassion in World Farming are reaching out to consumers, politicians, producers and retailers to put an end to the intensive ‘factory’ farming of chickens. This ranges from lobbying to demanding clear and honest labelling so that customers can make an informed choice at the till.

There are around 360 million egg-laying hens in the European Union (EU) and more than two-thirds of them are confined in barren battery cages. Thanks to a vigorous campaign, on 1 January 2012, the EU ban on barren battery cages comes into force. By that day, all laying hens in the EU should be out of these cages.

However, with less than one year to go until the ban comes into force, some countries around Europe are still a long way from complying with the new legislation.

Take action today

Food Inequalities

The trouble with trans-fats – read about it here

Listen to it here

Food Poverty (UK)

Blog Action Day

Since 2007, Blog Action Day has focused bloggers around the world to blog about one important global topic on the same day. Past topics have included water, climate change and poverty.

This year, Blog Action Day is on October 16, which coincides with World Food Day, so the 2011 theme is food.  I registered for Blog Action Day 2011 to join in the global discussion about food.  Follow #BAD11 on Twitter.

Changing things starts with small actions. Sponsoring a child in Africa, trying not to waste food, sending an email to a Euro PM (…you might be surprised, I got a personal response) and making the best choice you can at the till.

Thank you for reading;  if there is anything that’s struck a chord please leave a comment.  Normal format returns next time.

  1. October 16, 2011 8:13 am

    Excellent action for the promotion of awareness of food crises! Truly, famine is the obscenity that we have to continue fighting against. Here in the country I’m in now (Philippines), I see famine hitting lots of people everyday. The population’s huge, and the government cannot create enough programs for the people. In addition, the government here is really corrupt, so the poor aren’t really given much attention. Therefore, they continue to live in poverty and famine is an evident effect. But, I can only imagine how much worse it is in Africa where people there have to deal with famine and poverty amidst war.

    • October 17, 2011 8:18 am

      Cherszy – it’s sobering to get a comment from someone who is seeing poverty everyday rather than just hearing about it on the news like I do. There is a huge expat population from the Philippines here in Dubai, all working incredibly hard to give their children a better life.

      • October 25, 2011 11:47 pm

        I am not sure if I am correct, but Filipinos are 500,000 strong here in Dubai. I see at least one Filipino in every corner. It’s sad that we have to go outside of the Philippines to work for a “better” future for our families. But sometimes it is not necessarily “better”. Financially yes it can be, but the distance can break relationships. It is a reality our overseas workers deal with.

        Oh and about the government, yes there is corruption. But I think that is not exclusive to our country. There are still quite a number of good people making things happen in our country 🙂

      • October 31, 2011 9:05 am

        I have so much admiration for the number of Filipinos I meet here in Dubai, who work so hard for their families back home. I cannot imagine being apart from my own children for years on end.

  2. October 16, 2011 11:01 am

    A really thought-provoking post Sally and a message that I will spread and share. I am most familiar with Action Against Hunger’s campaigns and Oxfam, as well as Hugh FW’s various campaigns over here in the UK but you have highlighted many other good causes and links to investigate. I suppose it is one thing doing your bit locally, choosing ethically produced food and buying fair-trade etc. My boy’s school just donated a huge amount of food through the harvest festival to a local open-door place but the problem is MUCH bigger and we need to think much more globally. Thank you for such a well-written post.

    • October 17, 2011 8:15 am

      Thank you Ren – I think it has to be a combination of changing your own behaviour plus fighting for things politically. Each on their own won’t be enough.

  3. Tricia Evans permalink
    October 16, 2011 11:12 am

    A very powerful & thought-provoking post Sally – I’ll share it. Tricia x

    • October 17, 2011 8:14 am

      Thanks Tricia – always value your support.

  4. October 16, 2011 11:19 am

    This is such an enlightening and well-strung together post. It takes not just research to be able to write something like this, but also passion – or actually, compassion – over time, not just on any one day, to be able to voice the thoughts you have. Makes me realize that despite knowing of all these issues, I rarely do anything about it…the fact that you wrote to a European PM in itself is admirable. Wish we as Fooderati Arabia had planned to do something for today…still not too late?

    • October 17, 2011 8:14 am

      I do feel strongly about these issues and it’s easy to feel helpless. The ChickenOut and FishFight campaigns make it easy to lobby once you’ve signed up…however sometimes you wonder if it just gets diverted into spam. However the proof is that policy is being changed and I was amazed and encouraged to get a response and a reply from my follow up.

  5. October 16, 2011 11:26 am

    Oh, excellent and so informative! Thanks Sally :-))

    • October 17, 2011 8:12 am

      Thanks Mich – enjoyed reading your considered and intelligent post too.

  6. October 16, 2011 12:12 pm

    Thanks for taking up the challenge to spread awareness Sally. I have so much to say, and really should have done a post on it today, but sadly I may run out of time…

    • October 17, 2011 8:11 am

      I know how much you care about the issues around food – so you’ll spread the word all year long.

  7. October 16, 2011 12:29 pm

    A great post Sally and everything I rattle on about, but do little towards. My own small contribution is to eat locally and buy from the producers, that way you avoid the greed of the corporations and only buy what you eat (I avoid big supermarket shops) and the money goes straight to the producers. However this is all much easier in a country conducive to this way of life (France) and with time and money on hand (actually I don’t believe the time issue, I still cook when I’m working a 12 hour day and my mother did with four children and a full time job). My generation was encouraged to not cook and to buy pre-packaged food (something that was deemed too expensive for my mother) encouraged by the big food manufacturers. Now people have lost the knowledge of how to cook and look after themselves and the big food companies have stepped in causing obesity’ allergies etc. whilst catering to those with money, growing food for those that can afford it and stripping the land for those that can’t. I also believe that they have made food too cheap for those who can afford it and buy more than they need, just in case they might want it (buy 1 get one free) and then throw it out at the end of the week.
    Thanks for highlighting the causes that are fighting this deathly chain the World has created.
    In the end, I believe it is all about education, even here in France that has been lost and everybody buys their food pre-packaged, pre-cooked and frozen, if there were ever a shortage of food in the supermarkets, no one would know how to fend for themselves. This has happened in one generation! Hats off to Jamie, Hugh etc who are trying to highlight this situation and do something about it and to you to raising the awareness and making it simpler for us all to participate!

    • October 17, 2011 8:10 am

      Thanks for taking the time for such a considered and passionate comment Angela. I agree with you especially about the price of food – the real cost of food is not calculated at the till.

  8. October 16, 2011 1:19 pm

    I like to see this aspect on a food blog. Without proof that we consider the impact of our passions, we as food bloggers paint ourselves as shallow. It should be obligatory for all people who blog about gluttony to show that we understand the impact of excess, and our desire to appreciate the good things in this world whilst leaving something for everybody else. Next year I’ll join in too.

    • October 17, 2011 8:08 am

      Thanks Sarah – I think so too.

  9. October 16, 2011 1:57 pm

    lovely sally! hats off to you; i have watched this movie a year ago and since then.. it has been a turning point in my diet and food. I prefer preparing everything from scratch.. all my pesto’s sauces, gravies etc.. haha i contemplated making my own ketchup even; I switched to farm fresh foods, shopped for local produce; went pro organic; and cut down on frozen foods; I also shopped for 3 days instead of a month.. in the process there was less wastage and kept my mind for new recipes and groceries fresh 🙂

    Now addressing conglomerates is another step; but I hope to be able to do what you did and address this issue proactively next year.

    • October 17, 2011 8:08 am

      Really inspiring Drina – we all need to make changes , however small, to make a difference.

  10. October 16, 2011 2:16 pm

    thank you for this informative post! If everyone helped feed one other person, it would help the starving millions.

  11. October 16, 2011 3:09 pm

    Thanks for this, it was so interesting to read.

    • October 17, 2011 8:06 am

      Thanks Sue – really appreciate your comment.

  12. October 16, 2011 4:38 pm

    Very comprehensively written. Food Inc. the movie really contains a bunch of information that would change people’s perspectives on Food. Thanks Sally for this wonderful article.

    • October 17, 2011 8:06 am

      Thank you Esoy – I think it should be compulsory viewing.

  13. October 16, 2011 6:01 pm

    I love – love – love this post Sally!
    Great work!

    • October 17, 2011 8:06 am

      We’re on the same wavelength Regula. Bravo for your chicken article.

  14. October 16, 2011 8:04 pm

    What a thought provoking and cogent analysis of our current food issues. With a background in working for NGO’s, I have to reconcile on a daily basis my love of fine food with the fact that so many in the world go with out it, everyday. One my favorite quotes is the following by E.B. White, “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.” I have even included it on my “About Me” page.

    • October 17, 2011 8:05 am

      Thanks for such a considered comment Nausheen. I was not familiar with that quote before.

  15. Anna permalink
    October 16, 2011 8:31 pm

    Very interesting

  16. October 16, 2011 8:50 pm

    Great post – glad to discover the blog. Famine is truly the new F Word.

    Nausheen’s reference to the powerful E.B. White quote “If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to save the world and a desire to savor the world,” is a reminder to the fragile world we live in today.

    Let’s hope our using our blogs to contributes some new awareness and action to equalizing the bounty of this globe to all.

    • October 17, 2011 8:04 am

      Agree wholeheartedly – our voices matter and can be heard. I included evidence of where this has already made a difference as I think it’s easy to think ‘why bother’. Thanks for your comment.

  17. October 16, 2011 8:51 pm

    This is fantastic, Sally! Well done!

    • October 17, 2011 8:02 am

      Thanks Dina – I do believe in people power.

  18. October 17, 2011 2:40 am

    This is crazy. I watched that food inc. movie and it was great.
    Thanks for the 411 🙂

  19. October 19, 2011 5:40 am

    Hi Sally!
    Nice to meet you here!
    I feel so happy cos our participation is very important to the world!

    Kisses from Rio de Janeiro.

  20. October 19, 2011 5:26 pm

    Thanks Sally for visiting, my blogs have translators Google and it is the first gadget in the right column.

    I’ve been working as a volunteer for many social causes, I just do not do more than I can because I have a job so bureaucratic. I dream one day to leave for an effective action. So I will feel fulfilled in life.


  21. October 20, 2011 3:43 am

    A great post! Food for thought, for sure… We love eating and writing about our passion for food, so we should also be aware of such problems.




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